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Screen Time Not Always a Good Time

The Mayo Clinic reports that too much screen time for your kids can lead to obesity, irregular sleep, behavioral problems, impaired academic performance, violence and less time for play. I am well known for telling my kids to “Turn off that TV and go outside and PLAY!” but even I did not realize the long list of adverse side effects from letting my kids entertain themselves with electronic gadgets.

Experts recommend no more than two hours a day of screen time which includes television, movies, video games, iPods, and computers. Two hours a day may sound like a lot, but it is a quick and easy number to reach. Consider for a moment what your kids may be watching before school, while at childcare providers, after school and in the evenings.

Play time for children is crucial to their healthy development. I remember growing up in the outdoors and spending my summers riding horses, swimming, working in the garden, and climbing trees. Now I need a crow bar to pry my children off the keyboard. That being said, here are some helpful ways I have found to limit my kids screen time:
  • I do not let my kids have TV’s in their bedrooms and our computers are placed in common shared areas of the house.
  • The kids are not allowed to eat in front of the TV. In addition to increasing screen time, it also promotes mindless munching which can lead to obesity.
  • Often I suggest other activities like reading, playing a sport, or board games. Get a book and read or pull out those stuffed animals and make up a game. Build something with Legos, paint a picture or use play dough.
  • Unplug it. When all else fails, just unplug it. Eventually the kids will figure out something else to do.
By creating new habits and household rules, I was able to cut back on screen time and prevent its negative effects. You may also find as a positive side effect, that quality time spent reading or playing board games creates wonderful memories and a stronger bond with your kids.

~ Jennifer